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30 – Using photo presets/filters for Instagram

Most of us will have seen (and admired) the beautiful Instagram accounts of some bloggers, influencers and Instagram users. Their grids, and stories always looks so beautiful and somehow, no matter what the content or the picture subject they just all seem so cohesive. Of course, some people are very gifted photographers but there is likely another reason why this might be the case too, they could be using a “filter” or “preset” on their images to make them all fit together and create a cohesive image look for their account. If you want to find out more about why and how to do this, keep reading below.

What is a filter or Preset?

Put simply a filter and a preset are kind of similar. A filter is something found on most apps and allows you to edit your image quickly and easily using a preselected filter which will often edit the image with a combination of effects such as different colours, lighting or distortion.

Presets are essentially saved filters which unlike filters (which are often offered for free on many social media platforms), are usually sold at a reasonable price via the person who created them and make much more in depth changes to your image that a filter would. Presets are often created by photographers and individuals with a keen eye for photography using editing software to make simply changes that can then be applied to multiple photos at once.

The main difference I believe between the two is that with a filter you can be limited to the adjustments you can make to it, often the only edit you can make with a filter is adjusting the strength of the filter itself. A filter often changes basic settings, whereas with a preset it can change between 30 and 50 different settings within the image edit.

How to use a filter or Preset?

Filters are very simply to use and are often found within the app themselves. You just scroll through the options given and apply it directly to your photo within the app. 

Presets however are usually purchased in the form of a DNG (digital negative) file from someone who has created it. Since you cannot apply presets directly in Instagram itself people will often use Adobe Lightroom where you can import the DNG file straight into the presets module to save it to your Lightroom account. Then any time you wish to apply the preset to a photo you simply upload it in Lightroom, apply the already saved preset, make any other adjustments you might wish to make such as brightness or cropping the image.

Instagram does now have its own set of presets and filters that you can use directly in the app, but these are limited and as you can image are widely used. As these are generic options within the app you may find that they don’t offer exactly what you want, but it is worth having a play around with them to see what difference they can make to your photos.

Why should you use a filter or Preset?

There are several reasons why people might choose to use filters/presets for their images, and this will vary person to person. A few of the main reasons however include, creating a cohesive look that brings their images together to create a feed that looks like it was meant to be together. Editing your images also shows people that see your content that you care enough to edit your photos, take care over how they look and want to make them look as good as they can. Photographers, brands and people with a keen eye for images will appreciate this. Also having a cohesive look means people are more likely to recognise your images when scrolling through a feed it almost creates a “brand” that people can relate your content with.

Another reason to use presets is that it saves time. Combined with the Adobe Lightroom app (the app most people use to apply presets as these cannot be applied directly in Instagram) you can edit photos in minutes if needed. This saves so much time as you can simply apply your preset, make any tweaks you need and go, leaving you with a beautiful image in a fraction of the time it would take to edit manually without a filter or preset. If you are still wondering whether you should use presets then the answer is, give it a go. You can find them relatively cheaply, or even free and they can really help save time, pull together a cohesive look and really bring out the best in your photography skills too.

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